1963-11-02 - Thats How You Get Ants
Summary: Bernard, Thea and Carnelian discover what really brought down Grover's Mill this week. Anya did the scene-running, emitting.
Related: Them
Theme Song: None
bernard thea carnelian 

The ruins of Grover's Mill are covered in a thick morass of fog, which is definitely not just marine layer. The moisture in the air is coupled with the dirt and dust of a town collapsed in on itself, and is accompanied by the distant and varied noises of rescue operations spread across the few square miles of what's left. Weak sunlight from an overcast sky barely penetrates the rolling, sticky gray ground clouds.

Unfortunately with the roads giving out under firetrucks and ambulances left and right, most of the relief efforts have been focused on the fringes of the disaster site. But with barely half a day gone by since the collapse last night there are definitely still survivors scattered throughout the mess. Some are staggering slowly through the obscured streets, steadily making their way toward the edge where help awaits. Many stand idly, confused and disoriented, but otherwise unhurt. Many more can be heard calling for help from inside the half-collapsed buildings all around.

Stepping out of the cab at the edge of the barricades keeping people from heading further into the disaster zone, Bernard carries a small satchel and a canvas duffle bag over the other shoulder. "Hrm… this may be a bit harder to traverse than I expected…" he mutters to himself, then shrugging he makes a surreptitious gesture of a mudra of control and pulls some fog a little bit tighter around himself as he scoots further by emergency responders. It would be best not to have police wondering what strangers were doing heading into town quite so soon.

Thea doesn't bother with any such disguise. Her hair is pulled back in a simple plait, a coat on over her blouse, wearing slacks and sensible shoes. With her bag clearly full of first aid supplies, she's wading past the edges, a one woman clinic on the loose, closing her eyes to let her powers pull her to where she'll be the most good.

He heard about some trouble— something about a hole? Carlos isn't entirely sure what the trouble is but he's sure there's trouble. What else will he do but investigate? He is, after all, Carnelian! Not in any way shape or form to be confused as the Orange Defender, no matter what anyone in Los Angeles has to say.
For his part, the young man is dressed all in black: black jeans, black hoodie. The only color is the red and orange bandana that hangs around his neck, and is currently pulled up and covering half of his face. Thus is Carlos made Carnelian. But as he heads closer to the disaster zone, he sees Thea: "You!" he exclaims in surprise. They sure seem to be showing up at the wrong places at the right times lately. He notices Bernard lately, and calls out ot the fellow, "Hey, you should take care and stay back senor."

Indeed, it is very simple to slip past the barricades. The first responder teams are much more focused on getting people to safety rather than keep anyone out.
A hundred yards in, the three heroes find themselves converging on the raised surface of a four-way intersection. The town didn't have many traffic lights, but this was the former home of one of them, now laying on it's side, sparking feebly. The site is perhaps conspicuous however, considering the streets leading away from it in the other three directions are all four feet lower than the bit they could walk in on. Everything is cracked and crumbling all around, but the streets are especially rough past this point.

Directly ahead the heroes can spy where an RV has crashed into the front of a diner. Either it was pulling in to the diner's parking lot, or veered in during the collapse, but the front half of the vehicle is firmly lodged through the plate glass of the diner. From inside the RV is the distinct sound of a dog barking.

Glancing towards the man calling out towards him, Bernard raises a brow slightly, then glances around at least to make sure that there isn't anything particularly alarming. "Oh, I'm sure it's nothing. It doesn't feel anything like the Hellgate," he says somewhat dismissively, though he does take a moment to pull out a long brown bit of fabric from the canvas bag. "Perhaps a tectonic shift, or a terrakinetic," he considers out loud before he tugs the brown robes on over head, adjusting them for comfort.

A blonde head turns, whipping her braid over her shoulder as brown eyes pop open. There's a glare at Carnelian, then at other rescue workers as she carefully steps her way over to him. "What? I'm a nurse. I had to come see what I could do. What are you doing here?" Then she sees Bernard, and just.. mentally facepalms.

"Something is up." Carnelian replies to Thea with a shrug and a nod, "Maybe someone needs help and you can heal them— by the way that tingly thing totally worked, felt great the next day, no problem at all; not that you doubted your own thing, but you know, this is me saying thank you. Lamely. Man, Carlos, get a grip on yourself." So apparently he has a real name.

But Carnelian, or Carlos, whoever, looks around with some caution as they approach the… sinkhole? "You never know what crazy thing is going to happen, is what I'm doing here. Maybe someone's down there. If so I throw them a platform and pull them out." To demonstrate he makes a gesture, and on the ground before him there is a sudden flare of orange-red light, a perfect square. He gestures up and the square— a few inches around really, so its more an example then anything else— rises quickly up into the air. A gesture of dismissal and its gone.

"Bark! Bark bark bark!" The sounds from inside the un-defenestrated RV come more stridently, perhaps because the dog can hear people outside. Is that a more human-sounding groan as well? It's hard to hear precisely.

Otherwise it's relatively quiet in this stretch of town, though aid workers can be heard in indistinct, confusing directions through the fog.

Sprinkles of light rain begin to patter and run down the dusty brown siding of the RV, canted to the right side a bit, but still mostly upright. The diner and parking lot are about four feet down from the nice bit of intersection our heroes have claimed.

"The dog may be able to point out survivors as well," Bernard says to the man with the red field as he finishes looping a belt over the robes and pulls up the hood. "Unless it's own master is injured. It's worth a shot if that is what you are seeking?" He glances towards the blond woman and inclines his head to her, "I am sure that your healing arts will be far more useful than whatever else we may be able to accomplish." He wasn't particularly fond of the barking beasts, but it probably wouldn't shut up till it had attention, so he makes his way towards the recreational vehicle with a wary eye.

Thea turns her head towards the RV. "Or the dog may be completely freaked out and likely to attack a wounded owner." She's going to try and sound reasonable. "There are people hurt. I don't have a choice. I have to find them."

"Just be careful, hey, really, near the hole, I suggest we ride platforms. They don't go anywhere I don't want and that way no one else falls in. More people falling in would be bad." Carnelian inclines his head, and then a moment later there's a square of carnelian light in front of him, and he steps up onto it confidently. But he doesn't make one for anyone else: he learned his lesson of assuming Thea couldn't take care of herself. He does say, though: "Especially the healer falling in is extra bad."

Up close, it looks like the RV has a long crack running top to bottom about halfway down the left flank. It would probably be openable with a sufficient application of force. There's also a busted hatch on the part its roof that isn't in the diner.

Peering into the diner wreckage reveals a man and woman sprawled out in front of the RV's impact site. They're both wearing red flannel and blue jeans, but from the lacerations and pale skin, both of them have been dead for hours. They must have been at the table right where the RV hit.

Halfway through the windshield is a middle-aged man in a blue chambray work shirt and khaki pants. It's hard to tell if he's still alive or not. There's glass and blood all over the place, but at first glance he doesn't look as bad off as the two in the diner. Either door at the front of the RV still looks serviceable.

Glancing at the fellow producing platforms, Bernard considers it then shakes his head. "I don't intend to quite go down into one of the chasms, but should we attempt to, I will take you up on your offer." Frowning at the blood and gore and smell, he places a sleeve against his nose to keep away some of dead body scent. "I can't be sure, but the driver may still be with us?" He seems somewhat put out by the situation, perhaps the first dead bodies he's seen.

Thea just moves, stepping up onto that square of light next to Carnelian, a hand gripping his arm. "You promise you won't drop me?" She whispers, a hint of a smile for him. Brown eyes look around again, biting her lip. "The guy in the windshield. He needs me."

Carnelian smiles, but that's not visible beneath his bandana: "The way my hoodoo works, senorita, once I put a shield in place it doesn't move unless a trunk hits it or I will it. Dropping is no danger." That said, there's a gesture and the square of light expands— and separates— carrying Thea to the RV and the windshield. As that happens, Carnelian is suddenly encased in orange-red light as a geometric looking set of glowing armor wraps around him. Its all planes and angles, but if he's gonna be moving Thea, its easier for Carnie to move himself with the armor. Practice. It does take a bit of thought to keep Thea's travel platform going, his hand up reaching towards her as he does, but it takes very little.

Seeing as how the physician wishes to assist the poor accident victim, Bernard tugs at the RV door somewhat to try to get it open for her. "Impact damage, it's a bit stuck." He frowns at it before gesturing towards it with a sword hand mudra and a small shard of arcane energy slices the hinges of the RV door. Tugging at it again more from the other angle the door falls off it's lack of hinges to the ground with a small resounding thud. "Well then, I hope we don't have any unfortunate visitors listening for that…"

Thea startles a little at that separation, brown eyes going wide as she looks at him. There's definitely a flicker of doubt and maybe a little fear. But then she's focusing elsewhere, at the poor man stuck in the windshield. She forces a deep breath, reaching out to him to start knitting torn flesh together. The thud makes her head turn. "Be careful. There's a dog and someone else inside." She says, before she's pouring her focus into the man she's healing.

"Trust me." Carnelian's voice is ernest, and once Thea's platform is there at the RV, he floats his armor near, ready and watching for danger. Then there's a blink of surprise as Bernard does… something? He's not sure what, but the guy has some sort of power to make the door … break open? "I'm no use on the sick, so I'll keep watch. You guys see if you can take care of any survivors. I've got your back."

With the door off, it's clear that the driver of the RV is very badly injured. A concussion and lacerations are the least of his problems. He's also experiencing some internal bleeding, but his injuries somehow managed to avoid the most critical areas. Left on his own for another half day would be the end, but Thea is definitely able to help him.

Inside, a white and brown terrier runs to the front of the RV, barks the people gathering, and then runs back inside, nosing at the door of the vehicle's tiny bathroom. The door swings on bent hinges unable to close all the way due to the heavy boot and leg sticking out of the commode. The leg moves and a very groggy man, also white, also middle-aged, but in a black t-shirt and blue jeans, tumbles out onto his hands and knees on the floor of the RV.

"Whu… what happened?" Black t-shirt asks, and then he sees Thea helping the driver. Black shirt rushes to the passenger seat, shaken, terrified, and not sure how to intervene, though he is panicky and concerned for the other man. He takes the driver's hand in both of his, pressing the other man's fingers to his cheek.

"Harry? It's your Ned, can you hear me?" It seems 'Harry' went through the windshield while his 'Ned' was in the crapper. Talk about bad timing. Fortunately Harry is already coming around thanks to Thea, and the dog is finally quiet, though simultaneously trying to lick and nuzzle Ned's pant leg. Terriers are weird.

In other news, while Bernard, Thea and the RV family are up at the front of the RV, it seems something has crept around from inside the diner and was circling around the back of the RV. Only Carnelian has the first glance, and it's hard to absorb the sight at first, but it becomes clear quickly enough. A giant, glossy, red ant nearly the size of a horse and creepily quiet on its six legs looks like its surprised to see Carnelian on it's hunt for the bloody ones on the other end of the RV.

In a flash though, the ant's surprise is gone and it leaps at Carnelian, desperate to clamp the bright orange man in it's massive mandibles. They look strong enough to crush a car, and sharp enough to rend steel. Time to put that fancy armor to the test!

Blinking as the other fellow rushes up towards the front, Bernard's hand raises as if he's about to do something until there seems to be no threat. "Are… you doing alright, Ned was it?" He is glancing over the fellow, not that he would know the first thing about a concussion or any other trauma. The bouncing dog gets a side eye though, but when it calms down, he does take another step from the RV to give the people and Thea room. The giant red ant jumping at Carnelian out of the corner of his eye causes his mouth to drop. "What in the name of all that's holy is that?" He raises up his hand once more, but where exactly Is the weak point in an ant? "Damnation, I'll just have to unleash the whole quiver at this rate, Sagita Magica!" he cries out as bolts of energy fly out towards the big red bug from his outstretched palm.

Thea is working hard, sealing wounds, redirecting blood flow. It's not easy work, and the expression on her face will express it well, as will the odd fluctuation of color in her face. "He's going to be all right." She says, not glancing at Ned. "I promise." She's going to make sure of it. Then that ant is leaping and attacking, splitting her attention. Harry won't die, but the Ant sure will. She doesn't know much about insect biology, but on an ant this big. "The thorax! Where the head joins the body, aim there!" She cries out, even as she's wrenching at things /inside/ the insect.

"GIANT FUCKING ANT." Carnelian exclaims the most obvious thing in the world. An instant later, a sword of orange-red light is in his hand and he's trying to slit its zero-width sharpness into the carapace of the giant ant.

The giant ant that is trying to EAT HIM.

Fortunately, his shields are strong: strong enough? Hard to say. Unfortunately, that doesn't stop him from freaking out a bit, "THERE'S A GIANT FUCKING ANT HERE." And its trying to EAT ME. But he does register: thorax. And he's sorta educated, so he knows what that is. Its there he aims with the sweeping slash of his light blade. "I GOT THIS."

With Harry pretty much put back together, Ned was already trying to look him over more thoroughly, brushing glass out of his clothes and hair. But when the shouting and fighting starts up, Ned grunts and drags Harry back deeper into the RV. For the record, this is the normal response. Heroes are crazy people. Heroes like Puck.

(The camera zooms in on the terrier's collar as the dog leaps from the RV. A freeze-frame shot that hasn't been invented yet reveals the dog's name to be this.)

Teeth bared, Puck launches from the driver side door and tears after the giant ant. So brave! His teeth latch onto the ant's back leg, just as the barrage of arcane arrows flies past. Many of them ricochet off the steel hard carapace, but with the advice of the thorax, many of the arrows find purchase in the weak point.

The piercing arrows cause the ant to flinch as well, arching and making it's thorax an even easier target for Carnelian. The impossibly thin blade of light lances through the ant, lopping off it's head. The thing crashes to the ground, broken concrete sizzling where its saliva drips on the ground.

Given the timing of the monster's collapse, Puck the dog clearly looks like he believes himself to be responsible for this victory, and poses heroically for the nonexistent camera.

Wincing somewhat and shaking off his arm from the strain of firing off so many at once, Bernard watches the thing fall to the ground in pieces with sizzling saliva dripping from it. "Unless your armor can block acids, I suggest keeping clear of the body!" he shouts out towards Carnelian as he considers the giant ant from a distance. "I hadn't been aware those things could even reach that size except in bad movies," he frowns but shakes his head as he decides to ignore his own suggestion and approach the monstrosity in hopes of deciphering if it has an arcane origin at least.

Thea eyes the corpse a moment, before she's returning her attention to Harry. She doesn't need to touch him, just looking in through that hole in the windshield. She'll boost his blood pressure a bit, just to try and get him to wake and ease Ned's concern a bit.

"Right." Canrelian stares at the recently dead ant with disbelief and a little panic, but backing away— acid vs armor? The kid has absolutely no idea. It's not something he has tried. "So everyone saw the giant ant that I cut the head off of, right? You know what I remember from high school? Ants are freaking colony insects that are tiny but travel in groups according to smell. This guy isn't tiny. But I'm betting his cousins aren't all that far behind." Pause, he looks at the dog, "Good dog." And with that he soars up a few yards into the sky, the better to get a look out for other giant ants.

(Also it’s harder for them to try to eat him up there)

The ant's saliva continues to burn furrows in the concrete several inches deep, giving off an acrid aroma, before becoming basic enough to just puddle as a dark fluid in the little pools it formed.
With Harry awake inside, both he and Ned call Puck back in, and the three are hunkered down for the moment.

POP. PopPopPop. The sound of distant small arms fire is muted by the fog. Several distinctive 'BLAM's mark shotgun fire as well for those who would recognize the noise for what it is. That, and the screaming. The running, and the screaming. It seems the first responder police have also run across the source of the sinkholes and are futilely trying to shoot at the ants.

Likewise from up high, Carnelian has a great view of a very orderly, single file line of equally enormous red ants marching toward their location at the diner. Maybe a dozen or so at a quick count.

Yes. This is how you get ants.

"Then we need to evacuate these people as priority," Bernard says as he waves a slightly glowing hand over top of the dead ant, as if trying to discern something about it. "Can you make one of those platforms large enough to hold the entire vehicle? It would be the quickest way to evacuate everyone," the question is of course directed to the fellow currently floating overhead. "I don't think sticking around to fight an entire colony is particularly wise, and there isn't time to call forth a horror that wont simply end in the rest of the town being destroyed in the process." He is already moving back towards the RV at the very least.

"Well, I have other priorites than looking for ants. Of any size." Like getting Harry to a state where she can comfortably leave him to recover. "There are more hurt, I need to focus." Then there's gunfire, head turning, before she's moving, ducking her head inside the RV. Then she looks at Carnelian, waiting to hear if he could move the whole thing. "I have to help the other people."

Descending, Carnelian says with some fervor, "There's ants coming. A lot of ants. All walking in a nice, orderly line. Clearly I can fight them but I don't know for sure if I can fight them *all*." That said, he eyes Bernard a moment, thoughtful, and a moment later a line of orange-red is sliding under the RV. It cuts clean through the wheels as if its nothing, but since its aiming to carry the car? Wheels not so useful. "I can carry a car. But I can't do much of anything else if I am. We need to decide what the plan is: do we all pile on and escape? Or fight off the monster-ants?"

"We should get these people out of here first. We know what they are, and we can likely devise a plan based off the standard way that ants behave," Bernard says with a clear nod as he takes a step into the rv through the removed door. "Otherwise it's possible they'd be hurt while we try to deal with those numbers, and acid splatter? Seems a poor way to go."

"Get them out. I.. shit." She turns, looking towards where she just /knows/ there are more people. She's so clearly torn. "They need someone with bigger weapons."

With a gesture of his hands rising, both Carnelian and the platform rise— the platform is as steady as can be, but there is strain on the young man's features. Strain enough that his glowing armor vanishes: fortunately he gets to the platform itself as he does, so he doesn't take to falling to his death. So far, though the platform is only a foot off the ground. "Anyone who wants to get out of here hop on; Thea, these people need your help, after we get them to safety if you want I'll come back with you to look for others… even if it means facing a horde of man eating ants."

Thea casts brown eyes at Carnelian, a faint smile. "I think we should let the folks with guns maybe handle giant ants, and I will come back and see who else needs help. If you want to come."

Puck starts barking inside the RV, and both Harry and Ned rush to the window when things start moving. Once they have a good look at what's happening though, they retreat back inside, dragging Puck with them. They're happy for the lift, it seems.

Cruising nice and even down the road they came into this part of town on, the heroes quickly find themselves approaching the section of rescue workers not currently under siege, but from the running police and national guardsmen, they are quickly being redeployed. Fortunately the madness is such that hardly anyone even registers the worlds first hover RV coming in for a landing.

Hopping off the RV as it reaches it's end destination, the robed figure that is Bernard decides to be somewhat more productive with his help, and with a large chunk of chalk in hand, he starts to draw on the relatively undamaged roadway… from the size of the initial arc of the drawing, it seems likely he will be at this awhile as the other heroes go back to save more people.

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